medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: Chris Laning <[log in to unmask]>
> Christopher wrote:
>>in most regions and in most families --there are certainly exceptions and
variations-- the first son took the name of his paternal grandfather; the
second son could be named after his maternal grandfather or from another high
ranking name from the namengut of either side.
> While I'm not an onomasticist,
>I'd think such a generalization might be better qualified by some indications
of which centuries, geographic range and perhaps social class it refers to.
point taken, apology given and qualification below.
the specific example being expounded upon was that of a family of 11th-early
12th c. Burgundy, which i assumed (being unincumbered with much actual
experience or knowledge of the region) to have been, in general, and at that
time, close enough to my own, modest area of "expertise" (such as it is), the
Chartrain region of the later 11th through early 13th centuries.
i am sure that there *are* differences between the two regions but, from my
very, very limited dipping into the Cluny charters
Alexandre Bruel, Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny...
Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1876-1903
(Collection de documents inédits sur l'histoire de France. Première série,
T. premier, 802-954 ; T. deuxième, 954-987 ; T. troisième, 987-1027 ; T.
quatrième, 1027-1090 ; T. cinquième, 1091-1210 ; T; sixième, 1211-1300.
i assume that those differences are rather minor.
my even more limited work with charters from the South and Southwest of France
suggests to me an even greater difference, based perhaps on the prelevance of
Roman legal traditions in those areas.
certainly there are differences in *names* (as opposed to naming patterns)
over time, as well.
look through the names found in, say, the Carolingian Polyptiques and compare
them with those found in charters of the post Carolingian period and you will
see a really radical difference, as the more "Germanic" names seem to have
been "domisticated" more than somewhat over the centuries (or at least that's
my own, ad hoc, way of looking at it).
as to what's going on in other regions of Latin Europe --Italy, the Empire,
Spain, etc.-- i haven't a clue.
but, i do note that the venerable Grandfather of prosopographical studies,
Karl Werner (who, i *think* coined the very term "namengut"), founded his work
on family naming patterns on, primarily, French and German documents from the
Carolingian and immediately post-Carolingian periods.
>While I don't have specifics off the top of my head, I know there are
substantial swathes of time and place in European culture where the names of
godparents, dedications to particular saints and other factors seem to take
precedence over the names of parents and blood relatives.
my own [quite limited! viday soupra] work, however, suggests that the pattern
of naming the *first born* son after his grandfather (among the "nobility,"
including minor castelains) really trumped all other considerations (with
notable exceptions, like that i mentioned of the Counts of Chartres, c. 1100),
and that apparent variations from this pattern usually (but not always) were
due to the death of the first born son at an early age (e.g., the case of
Louis VI's sons).
i can't think of a single instance i came across in the Chartrain charters, in
the period i was working in, of a family whose *first born son* was, say,
named after a popular saint, and would be very surprised to find such an
the primacy of FAMILY (and of family traditions) was just too damned strong.
as to "social class" --that is really more or less irrelevant, when you're
talking about 11th-12th c. stuff: the 98% of the people who lived out on the
land, working themselves to death feeding *every*body, including the other 2%,
just rarely show up in the charters by name.
an interesting exception caused me to investigate a single case (the only one
i came across) more closely.
in the charters from the Benedictine house of St. Peter of Chartres (today's
Saint-Pere-en-Vallee) there are several, over a period of 50 years or so,
which deal with the family of the "mayors" [_maiores_] of the _villa_ of
Champhol --the villiage church of which is visible from the Bishops' garden
off the apse of the cathedral, on the plain across the valley.
if i remember rightly, the earliest of these guys was named Godescalc (note
the "archaic" name, common enough in Carolingian times, but very, very rarely
seen in the 11th-12th cc.
(see the index to Molinier's publication of the Obituaires of the diocese for
an idea of what names were common in the region and which ones were not,
none of his male descendants were named after the Lords of Leves (who gave the
place to St. Peter), but there was an instance of a daughter of the family
carrying the name of one of the Dames of Leves --and, of course, i jumped to
the conclusion that the girl was named after her "noble" godmother.
other than that single instance, i found that tracing the families of peasants
(or townsfolk) is just not possible in that region at that time --they just do
no show up in the charters at all, by name.
and the charters constitute 90+% of our evidenciary database.
no Sources, no History.
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